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Adam Gnade's new novella is about the story within the story. Waking time and dream dissolve into one as his characters navigate an interconnected world of long conversations, transmissions into the void, and horror stories told firsthand.
Even for a story concerned with stories, this is a book gill-packed with detail and minutiae; it's a dense, humid, crowded America--pocket dials and celebrity magazines, suburban parking lots and border crossings, a Civil War ghost story, a wedding and a mercy killing, a crowded street full of industry and an angry Russian tumblr-ing her way through spring break. It's about the disappearing ground of love and the endless nightmare of endless nights alone, the book's inhabitants looking at a lostness they can't quite articulate. (As says the vacationing Russian Eva Neveski, "What I see is this: miserableness, no joy, lack of god. Young people without direction, stuck in apartments, doing drugs, afraid to quit bad jobs. Everyone either wasting away like skeletons or getting cartoonishly fat. The few (the vast minority) who 'know what they want from life' striking out alone and scattering themselves across the globe.")The essayist Walker Percy once wrote that "American novels are about everything," and, while only a novella at 66 pages, The Heat and The Hot Earth is one of them.
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